Philadelphia, PA (May 10, 2016) – A $7.25 million settlement has just been reachedwith Phani Guthula, a Philadelphia area energy efficiency engineer who nearly diedafter falling 38 feet through a glass attic floor on November 26, 2012 while inspectinglighting fixtures in the famed Rodin Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, hisattorneys at Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C., said today. Larry Bendesky,David Kwass and David Langsam represented the plaintiff.
The settlement was reached last Friday just as jury selection was about to begin inPhiladelphia Court of Common Pleas on Mr. Guthula’s numerous claims againstdefendants – including the museum’s private security company – collectively responsiblefor the failure to protect him from harm when he stepped onto the hazardous,unprotected glass floor. As a result of the fall, Mr. Guthula suffered multiple fracturesand other traumatic injuries from head to toe; he was hospitalized for more than 45days, has had more than 15 surgeries, and requires intensive life long medical care.The Rodin, (which was released as a defendant from the litigation) is owned andoperated by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and had recently completed an extensive,$9 million renovation at the time of Mr. Guthula’s energy efficiency inspection (he wasworking for consulting contractor ICF International) and tragic fall. The museum wasopen to visitors at the time of the accident, which was documented by security cameras.
“One of the Rodin’s most famous sculptures is titled, Gates of Hell,” said Mr. Bendesky,a member of Mr. Guthula’s legal team at SMB. “The chilling picture of Phani Guthulafalling nearly to his death could have the same title; his life has been a living hell everyday since his fall. His accident was totally preventable had those responsible for hissafety just done their job.”Attorney Kwass added, “Testimony at trial clearly would have demonstrated that thedefendants failed miserably in their duty to protect Mr. Guthula. Guard railings installedto keep people off the glass floor were not in place, security personnel who escortedhim to the site were uninformed and inattentive, and there was no signage to warnagainst a fall hazard to which everyone – after the accident – agreed existed when healmost met his death.
“Mr. Bendesky stated, “Mr. Guthula hopes that there are lessons learned by those whoare responsible for workplace safety. The best plans and precautions are meaningless -as they were in his case – if they are not followed by everyone involved.”Photo: Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C.Defendants in the settlement are the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Allied BartonSecurity Services. The plaintiff was not going to assert claims at trial against L.F.Driscoll Construction Co., the museum’s renovation contractor or Elliott-Lewis Corp, thebuilding maintenance contractor. Mr. Guthula’s employer, ICF, was not a defendant inthe litigation.